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‘Dancing with the Stars’ Tony Dovolani refutes portrayed hatred of Derek Hough

‘Dancing with the Stars’ Tony Dovolani refutes portrayed hatred of Derek Hough
Photo by Michael Loccisano

Anyone who watched ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” on Monday night saw an unflattering introductory package of professional dancer Tony Dovolani interacting with his partner NeNe Leakes. The couple was reunited in week 5 for ‘Disney Night’ after a one-week separation for ‘Switch-Up Night’ that forced all the couples to change partners. Today’s April 15 post noted the couple was tense before taking the floor but not because of nerves.

The rehearsal footage captured the pair on the day after the switch-up show. Tensions were high between them. NeNe was shown talking about the positive experience she had as pro dancer Derek Hough’s partner the week before. Footage seemed to indicate that Dovolani resented her positive praise and was perhaps jealous.

After the ‘Disney Night’ show, Dovolani said it was a tough night. He felt the package made him look like a bad guy, focusing only a few negative moments and not the rest of that rehearsal or the rest of the week, for that matter. It was the way the whole thing was edited together that bothers the professional dancer.

“That package made me out to be the villain," he insisted. "It made it seem like I hate Derek. I don’t hate Derek. He’s an incredible choreographer.”

He says the Foxtrot they did to “Cruella De Ville” from “101 Dalmatians” did not come together on its own. The day after the spat, the pair made up, exchanged apologies and “I love you’s.” He admits they had a tiff but it was short-lived and they put it behind them.

The routine was good enough to earn them a 36 out 40 points, evidence that the two of them worked together quite well the rest of the week. Still, the couple was not all smiles afterward.

They were actually praised by judge Carrie Ann Inaba who thought the switch up was the best thing that ever happened to them. She clearly felt it improved their dancing. From the expressions on NeNe’s and Tony’s faces, it was clear they disagreed.

Though Dovolani was appreciative of the compliment, he disagreed with Carrie Ann’s assessment.

“I accept Carrie Ann’s compliment, but I didn’t agree with her that the switch-up made us better," Dovolani explained. "It actually set us back a day. We lost a day of rehearsal because after the tiff, which happened early in the day. We didn’t rehearse again until the next day.”

Dovolani says he doesn’t have hard feelings though. Not for the judges, not for Hough whom he called an amazing choreographer and not for his partner. They have gotten along well since the first day.

They were saved on Monday night’s show after being in jeopardy. Hopefully they will bring their unique style and mutual respect for one another to the ballroom until the bitter end.

"Dancing With the Stars" airs Monday at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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